>A Painful Lapse In Character


A co-worker left today just after 12pm to go register. Registration began at 2pm. Okay? He said he had to stand in a line to get to the line to go register. It took over four hours. Dang! I left work around 4:45 and got to the college at around 5pm. I was out by 6:30. Whew! I got into one class, the one I have to re-do because of a curriculum change. In the spring, I can register early, and online. Yay!

Have you ever had to be around someone who embarrassed you, for them? While alternately standing and sitting in line, a lady behind me caused me to go into my ‘I hate crowds, I hate people looking at me, omg, people are looking at me, I don’t want to be associated with that person because…’ mode. She made remarks that were completely inappropriate. The people she made them to, however, were gracious. She went up and down the line, asking questions and offering unsolicited personal information. Oh, I cringed. I have anxiety attacks (99% usually mild) and I could feel it all over me. And you couldn’t avoid her. Not paying attention or making eye contact didn’t deter her um, exuberance. *whimper* At one point, the line moved and I could be angled away from her without appearing rude. And I started to think about my thoughts and actions…

I was really disappointed in myself. What a snob I was! Who was I to judge her? To others, I probably come off like some loud, gauche goob! Don’t I have scars from my past? Haven’t circumstances, life, choices, etc., shaped the person I am? I didn’t have a magical looking glass to see what kind of life she’d had, or what her current circumstances were. She did seem sincere. Maybe no one ever took the time to help her see or understand or refrain. Maybe her life was rough…

As thoughts like this ran around, shaking their pointy little fingers at my conscience, I felt more and more awful. I couldn’t figure out a graceful way to redeem my behavior. Bless her, she did it for me (lol). We were seated in front of several display cases-trophies, clubs, and Phi Theta Kappa. She asked what the symbols on the t-shirt meant, and I told her. Then, being brave (I REALLY have a hard time talking to strangers-anxiety massive), I commented that I thought it was a cool looking shirt. It was, too. It was on from there. We talked about my Barnes & Noble book-bag (b-day gift from Honey) and she wanted to see the little pockets. That of course, brought up the subject of books. We talked about books until we were called to go back to actually get registered. I was uncomfortable, simply because of my grown up version of stranger anxiety. But it was fun listening to her passionate reviews and suggestions. I gave her a few of my own.

I was thankful for the chance for a re-do. Those chances don’t come around too often. I was also thankful for the reminder to put into action my usual mantra-don’t judge people too quickly or harshly because you don’t know what they come from. I’d like to think that, given better circumstances (less stressful day, cooler weather, shorter lines, no stressful company this weekend….), I would have been less quick/harsh in my judgement of this stranger. But that would be an untruth. It’s because of my own anxiety. I positively Lock. Up. when alone with lots of people I don’t know. I projected all my fears and frustrations onto her. I was unkind and unfair. And I’m usually not like that. Honest.

I wanted to share this because I believe accountability keeps me real and helps me keep my integrity in check. So, I hope all of you can forgive my lapse in character. It was an ugly, but valuable, lesson.

Has anyone else gone through a character check? Care to share?


About CuriousCat

I love to learn new things-anything from how to create a junk journal to the way light moves through space; why cats present their behinds to us to the effects of chemicals on our endocrine system. If it interests me, I can spend hours reading and learning about it.

Posted on July 15, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. >nothing to forgive, you handled it with aplomb!

  2. >*Laughingwolf-you are very kind, thanks.

  3. >You did well given the circumstances. I hope this day treats you kindly. Blessings…Mary

  4. >I suffer from a version of your anxiety. I'm okay if I initiate a conversation with a stranger but not always if they do. I think it's because my mother's a bit nuts and we could never be sure what inappropriate or humiliating thing she would say to strangers. I have to get over the childhood trauma, you know? A lot of people just like to chat. I think you did fine.

  5. >It's great how you were able to change your opinion of that annoying lady to a nice lady! Good for you! 🙂

  6. >*Mary-your kindness IS a blessing to me, thanks.*Tricia-I can understand. It wasn't just, or even mostly, my mother, it was our circumstances-I never knew what was going to happen, from day to day, on any level. And my fourth grade teacher…and thank you.*notesfromnadir-Hey, nice to meet you! It wasn't easy, or even my first choice. And I'm not sure that she wasn't still annoying, I just became less annoyed and more accepting…? And thanks for stopping by!

  7. >Good for you….I think it was probably something you needed to do for yourself as much as the 'annoying stranger'.My youngest daughter is pretty much the same..she finds herself in a crowded store and begins having slight 'panic attacks'. She never initiates conversations with strangers..and 'heaven forbid' a collector want to speak with her on the phone…she tries to avoid personally speaking with anyone she doesn't know.Last year we started doing the Art/Craft Shows and it helped some…I mean…who else but the actual artist can answer questions someone might have about one of her paintings?

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